Italy #1

Edited to add: here's a link to my photo album.

Now that I've finished copyediting SCOUNDREL'S KISS, and I've polished off some other chores that were awaiting my return, I can finally sit down this week and narrate our trip to Italy. I'm doing this for myself as much as for readers--a journal of our experience.

On the Wednesday of our flight, Keven and I spent the morning being lazy and slowly packing. We left the house around 12:30, parked in the long-term lot, and navigated O'Hare airport--including security--without any hassles. We ate at a sports bar and settled in for the wait for our trip to Toronto, the first of three planes we would board before arriving in Italy.

Toronto's main airport is much easier to navigate than it used to be, and all Air Canada flights arrive and depart out of the same terminal, which they didn't used to do. More waiting. At this point, I'd like to say that we saved $400 apiece by taking the hard way and suffering through two separate connections. This isn't something we would've even tried with the kids in tow, which started an ongoing narrative between Keven and I entitled, "Things We Wouldn't do With the Girls." We found many such instances during our travels.

So then we were on our way to Frankfurt. I must say that the Frankfurt airport's arrivals area came as a complete shock. The restrooms were all port-a-potties, and the entire place smelled of hot urine. Getting through customs was also interesting, mostly because of the very taciturn customs agent who didn't like to provide any more information than he required. That said, once we were through customs and into the departures area, the airport was like a shopping mall--all duty frees and restaurants. We ate some food and waited some more.

Our last flight was in to Rome. My brain was already getting a workout, using rudimentary Spanish in order to half-assed translate the stewardesses' Italian. But we were also bone tired. Luckily, Silvia's cousin, Valentina, and Valentina's dad (the brother of Silvia's mother), had agreed to come to the airport and pick us up. Valentino speaks very little English but enough to make herself understood--which was certainly more than I speak Italian. So she and her father chatted away while Keven and I slept. It was better that way, for me, so that I didn't freak out about her father's driving. Italian driving really is as crazy as you've heard, but there is a sort of logic to it. Everyone takes the racing line as if they're in Formula One, which only works when traffic from the opposing direction does the exact same thing.

We arrived in Cerreto D'esi, Silvia's home town, in La Marche at about 9 PM, a full 25 hours after we left the house here in Kenosha. I had asked Keven if he thought we might get food at Silvia's parents' house, which is where we were spending Thursday night. I needn't have worried. Silvia's mother, Maria, had prepared a fantastic dinner. We ate with Steve, Silvia, Richard (the best man), Silvia's parents, and Valentina and her father. And we learned our first word in Italian: "Basta." Enough!

Full and sleepy, but with my circadian rhythms reset after having been awake for so long, we headed out after dinner to get gelato at a little bar nestled at the base of Cerreto's old fortified town center. Cerreto only has about 3,000 people, and I swear Silvia and her parents know every one of them. While out for ice cream, she met people who had been invited to the wedding but who hadn't been able to attend. I sat next to a fountain, ate my gelato, and marveled at the fact that I was in Italy.

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